The City of Greenville has seven fire stations. They provide emergency response capabilities to the residents in battling fires, chemical hazards and explosive hazards due to structural or vehicular incidents. The average response time for the Greenville City Fire Department (GFD) is 7 minutes. The GFD is internationally-accredited through the Center for Public Safety Excellence and the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. GFD employs 161 people.
City of Greenville has one police department location in the city of Greenville, at the Law Enforcement Center (LEC), which it shares with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. Greenville City Police Department employs 260 people.
EMS ambulance services are dispatched from county square by a single EMS operation and response times vary depending on how far away the emergency incident is located from county square. The responses are categorized by severity of medical need: Alpha and Bravo are non-life threatening and Greenville EMS meets the industry standard 90% of the time; Charlie is serious medical issues or injuries and Greenville EMS responds in 12 minutes, 59 seconds 87% of the time; Delta is the most serious of medical response needs and Greenville EMS response times average 14 minutes, 30 seconds. The industry standard for Delta medical emergency responses is 10 minutes, 59 seconds. Greenville County EMS employs 243 full-time staffers.
Greenville is the most densely-populated city in South Carolina. This high density will continue to grow in the coming years. With that growth will also come the need for improved city public services and quality of life.
Greenville EMS response times within the city of Greenville have taken as much as 20 minutes for Delta emergencies. That is almost twice the industry standard. The central location at county square for city of Greenville EMS responses severely limits its ability to meet industry standards.
Most recent public cases involving police and minorities across the United States have been one of the reasons for more use of community policing efforts. These efforts cannot be conducted from just one central police headquarters. It requires community police presence.
The concept for enhancing essential community services is to establish seven community safety stations at the current seven GFD stations.
- Reduce the response time of EMS to Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta medical emergency responses.
- Reduce the response time of the city police department to crime scenes or traffic accidents.
- Enhance cooperative operational efforts by and between fire, police and EMS.
Police and fire departments exist to protect and serve their communities. Emergency ambulance response in Greenville County could be co-located at each of the seven GFD locations and substantially improve their response times within the city of Greenville.
There are physical challenges to overcome, notwithstanding the challenges that each department leader will have in making the establishment of community safety centers a reality.
However, the benefits far outweigh the problems and any downsides. The winner is all of us who live and work in the city of Greenville.
Col. Albert E. Fitzgerald (U.S. Army – Retired)